I have written and rewritten this article several times. I am, frankly, quite confused concerning much that is going on in the United States now. Especially with the Black Lives Matter movement. And I have struggled with how to respond to it. My preference would be to withdraw into a safe little world of my own making. But I am becoming convinced that is not really a viable option. Both because it is not a proper response. And also, because I doubt I would be safe even there for very long.
Just to get it out of the way up front, I am a white Christian male. And I believe that the only hope for the problems our world faces is in Christ. I acknowledge the impact that has, along with my life experiences, on how I see and understand what we are going through as a nation. And I realize it may be different than your perspective. But hopefully you will be able to at least hear and understand my perspective, even if in the end you disagree.
The State of the Union
The United States has become a deeply divided nation. The political rhetoric continues to become more and more toxic. We are becoming more and more intolerant, even as we champion toleration. We are more and more demanding of our rights, although often it is unclear to me why they are considered as rights. It often seems more like entitlements that actual rights.
The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced us to social distancing and isolation. It has also caused extensive economic damage to large segments of our population. Many segments of the population are resentful, feeling like they are unfairly treated or represented. Social unrest seems to be growing in intensity.
Then, with the killing of George Floyd, a black man, by police in Minneapolis, the nation seemed to erupt in protest and violence. There are protests in many cities and towns across the nation. And many of them have turned violent. There is a growing demand for justice and equality, regardless a person’s skin tone, gender or sexual orientation.
Do Black Lives Matter?
I find this to be a really confusing question. Of course black lives matter. And so do lives with every other skin tone. All lives matter. I whole-heartily believe that. And yet that statement, ‘all lives matter’, is one that is often met with hostility. That confused me for a long time. But the issue is not that black lives somehow matter more than others. But, rather, this slogan is calling attention to the plight of black lives in a society that is not always friendly to them. One that is even hostile at times.
And in that respect I can support the cry that black lives matter. Although when I say it, it is with the recognition that all lives matter. Just that some are currently in greater need. I have heard many reasons given for the plight of our black community. And it seems there is plenty of blame to go around. But pointing fingers accomplishes nothing. We need to work together to fix our broken society.
But supporting the intent of ‘black lives matter’ is not the same thing as supporting the Black Lives Matter organization. I have looked at their website and mission statement and find it to be racist and contrary to other positions that I hold as a Christian. And I cannot support it. It is unfortunate that this organization is using a legitimate issue to promote such a divisive agenda.
Responding to Racial Issues
I believe that the only lasting way to bring about peace in our world is to change the hearts and minds of people. Yet, at the same time, I believe there are some things we can do to erase the difference that exist among us.
It would seem to me that any change needs to start with education. I need to know that there is a problem. I need to understand what the cause of the problem is. And I need to have some awareness of how the issue can be resolved.
And then I need to get involved. What that looks like will vary from person to person. We are all different and I do not believe there is a one size fits all solution. But we should make it clear to those around us that racial prejudice is not OK. And we should support efforts to resolve the inequalities that exist within our country. Supporting them with our voice, our dollars, and our vote.
Responding as A Christian
There are many practical things that we can do as people to overcome the racial divide and inequity that we are facing. But, as a Christian, I believe that the only truly effective way to bring about lasting peace is to change people’s hearts. And I believe that can only be accomplished through the transforming work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of people.
Jesus walked a road that is often missed today. All too many Christians and churches focus on proclaiming the gospel and forget about the hurts of the people around them. Many others focus on those hurts and neglect to share the good news of salvation. But Jesus did both. He fed the crowds and healed the sick. And at the same time, he proclaimed the kingdom of heaven.
The Good News of Salvation
No amount of law or government regulation will be able to change my heart and attitudes toward other people. Protests in the street will not convince me that I should treat other people fairly, especially those who are different than I am. No amount of heated and fiery rhetoric will lead me to ‘turn over a new leaf’ and begin to be less self-centered. And self-help books or seminars will never be able to fix me, making me to not just tolerate others, but to love them.
At the heart of the problem is my own sin and fallen human nature. Discussions of sin are not popular today. Our culture wants to label sin as an outdated concept that has held back human advancement. And yet, dismissal of God, sin, and the message of the Bible has done nothing to solve our problems as a society. If anything, it seems to be making matters worse.
The Bible teaches that all of us are sinful self-centered creatures living in rebellion against our creator. And that sinful nature is at the heart of all of our struggles with other people. But the Bible also affirms that God has offered us a way out of that swamp through faith in Christ and the sacrifice he made for us. Surrendering to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and allowing the Holy Spirit to transform our lives makes us new. And that, I believe, is the only real hope there is in this world.
My Individual Response
It is unfortunate that so many Christians, as well as many others who call themselves Christians, do not live up to the example of Jesus and the teachings of the New Testament. Jesus went to the hurting, broken, and struggling people of his world. He reached out to them, healing, teaching, and bringing the love of God to them.
As a follower of Jesus, should I not follow his example? To love those around me. Not just with my words. But also, with my actions. And not just those who are like me. All people are created in the image of God and are worthy of my respect and compassion. I need to personally be willing to get my hands dirty in being the hands and feet of Jesus.
If I am not living like Jesus, then it is important that I examine my own life. Is my Christianity only a cloak that I wrap around myself when it is convenient? Something that has not actually changed my life? If so, I need to seriously address my relationship with Christ.
The Church’s Response
The church represents the Kingdom of God here on earth. It has the potential to be a powerful force for social change in our world. Historically the church has been responsible for much of the positive changes in our world. But, unfortunately, we do not always have such a positive impact in our world. And today we seem not to have much of a voice in the call for change. At least not in the United States. And that, I believe, is primarily our own fault.
As an individual believer, I am to be the salt and light in the world around me. But that applies equally to the church. Our local churches and denominations have some differences in faith and practice. But we are all called to positively impact the world around us.
As churches, we should be color blind, not tolerating any racial prejudice within our membership. And we should look into our communities for those segments of our population that are in need and neglected, doing something about it. We need to be relevant in this struggle for social equality.
Through the Gospel
While there are many practical things that the church can do to address the physical needs of the people around us, the most effective thing we can do is to share the gospel. While Jesus always responded compassionately to those in need around him, he also proclaimed to them the Kingdom of God. Meeting their physical needs was important, but temporary. Meeting their spiritual needs, though, was eternal.
The Great Commission was Jesus’ last instruction to his disciples. And it in large part defines the task of the church today. Or at least what our task should be.
All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.Matthew 28:18-20 NIV
We are to go out into the world around us making and baptizing disciples. And then to teach them to live in obedience to Jesus’ commands. We are to live like Jesus. And to bring others into relationship with him. Others who will also live like Jesus.
But this is more than just an educational program to teach people to live good lives. Living like Jesus involves the life changing work of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God living within us, transforming us into the image of God. And, ultimately, this is the only real hope for humanity. To become what God has created us to be.
A Call to Action
While not everyone will agree with me, I do not believe the solution of racial issues in our country is making new laws or enforcing existing one. I do not believe that defunding police, whatever that means, is the solution. Removing monuments that commemorate an undesirable past will not solve our division. Rioting in the streets will only make matters worse.
The solution has to start within my own heart and mind. I need to be willing to reflect the love of Christ to the world around me. To be willing to reach out to those who are hurting and oppressed. To be salt and light in a world in darkness and decay.
And I need to encourage others to live out their faith, to lend a compassionate hand to those in our community that are less fortunate than we are. While much of the world has written off Christianity and the Church as a positive influence for change, I believe it is our only hope. We, both individually and collectively, need to be the hands and feet of Jesus in a hurting world.
And, finally, we need to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world around us. It is, in the end, the only real hope for peace in our world. As we go into the world, let us go with the message of the gospel of peace. The good news that God loves us and has provided us with a way out of the mess we are in.
The views expressed here are solely mine and do not necessarily reflect those of any other person, group, or organization. While I believe they reflect the teachings of the Bible, I am a fallible human and subject to misunderstanding. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions about this post in the comments section below. I am always interested in your feedback.
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